Friday, November 7, 2008

Precarity (2)

The assumption of precarity on the part of the newly precarious knowledge-worker middle class is expressed, inter alia, as incommensurable or incompossible claims on attention and labour-power. Previously this might have been ansewered (say since the Keynesian 1930s) by the option to manufacture identity through consumption, but now through self-mediation (Web 2.0). (It's notable that consumerism and self-mediation both arise on the shoulders of economic crises).

The innocence thesis – that today the good does not beckon, and that we distinguish only evil and innocence – and hartley's thesis of pedocracy (television especially as the rule that everything should be suitable for children, and audiences should hence see themselves as childlike) are responses to the problem that we neither have a shared or even personal system of ethics, and that we feel decreasingly capable of action, ethical or otherwise. But these reflections are distinctly Eurocentric. Two other mechanisms begin to present themselves as options for the manufacture of selves in the postcolony: a) beating the coloniser at their own game (CLR James on cricket in the West Indies; the current success of Indian art fiction) b) the resort to tradition in Hindutva or post-Suharto Indonesia. The generation of communities round football teams, the persistence of white racism, indicate that these options are only closed to the middle class of Europe, for whom they appear atavistic.

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